Tuesday, April 30, 2013

one month One Month ONE MONTH!

It is FINALLY May 1st!! and we are in the home stretch. We still don't have an exact fly date yet or anything (and I couldn't share it publicly even if we did) but it is getting close enough to smell. As the weeks go by I might not be able to blog or keep up with blogs as much as I'd like. Moving in an of itself is a time consuming pain in the arse, moving over seas is about triple the usual headache. But it will be well worth it to finally be home. 

In other fun, exciting news:

Yep, my pony is all signed up for his first ever recognized horse trial! It takes place the weekend of the 18th & 19th and I'm really, really hoping my sister will be able to attend and get at least a couple of pictures for me. I am so excited and nervous which is kind of funny since I won't be riding but I will definitely be watching the online scores while biting my finger nails!

My trainer is also riding Monte, Loki's half-brother in the same event. Monte is going training level already! And to top it off Lori will be riding her other horse, Rio in training level as well. She is going to have a very busy weekend.

I just hope these next few weeks really fly by quickly. I am so ready to be outta here!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jumping Conclusions and a Contest

We've made it through Rolex week! I am excited for a couple of reasons. #1 I got to watch the entire event from start to finish and #2 that means I am that much closer to going home! Can't really emphasize #2 enough.

It is disappointing for the U.S. to get beat on their own turf again but if you are going to get beat I guess Andrew Nicholson and WFP are the best of the best right now. Badminton is going to be extra exciting this year as these guys face off to win the Rolex grandslam of eventing. It's worth $350,000 to the winner, I believe. First time ever that two people are eligible for it at the same time thanks to England's crappy weather last year raining out Badminton. Of course Ze Terminator, Michael Jung will be there as well to most likely dash both of their hopes. I guess I will keep my subscription to FEI-TV a little longer and watch some Badminton this weekend!

I don't know if any of you follow Denny Emerson on Facebook. (You should!) You might recognize him from a little book he wrote called How Good Riders Get Good. He has a lot of great insights into the sport of eventing and horses in general. One of the things he has commented on quite frequently is that a lot of those winning are not necessarily the most technically correct riders.  This really struck me as I was looking at some pictures over on EN of Andrew Nicholson. You can see them here. He is in the first and second pictures. I realize this is just two pictures out of thirteen jumps and we all have our bad moments but it is interesting that in both of these pictures his lower leg is in a land far far away compared to the rest of his body. If I did that I would go kersplat for sure! I'm not trying to pick on him or anything but I do feel a little better about my own riding faults when I see pictures like this of some of the greats. Is that really bad? lol

And finally go check out an awesome contest over at Equestrian At Hart. Up for grabs are some volunteer t-shirts from Rolex. I wanna win!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

XC DAY: Triumph and Heartbreak

I have to say I was really upset to not make it to Rolex this year but getting to watch the entire XC on FEI-TV was actually pretty awesome. You certainly get to see a heck of a lot more when you watch from the comfort of home. I was also glad, in the end, that I was forced to pay for the FEI coverage rather than relying on the free coverage from the USEF network as many people seemed to be having trouble with the free feed.

Anyways, as usual there was quite a bit of drama for XC. I am super thankful there were no serious injuries, even though at least one fall was quite scary to watch. A lot of great rides, though.

I was disappointed to see Allie Knowles (the highest ranked U.S. rider after dressage) have so much trouble and retiring at the 7th fence (I think). I don't know if it is just me or what but she just never seemed to get into a groove and seemed to be doing a LOT of picking before the fences.

And of course it turned out to be another disappointment for Becky Holder and Can't Fire Me as they had the first fall of the day when the horse just hung a leg on the duck. I know they'll be back to fight another day but still heartbreaking. 

I've also never seen a horse run out of gas in such a dramatic fashion as Trading Aces did with Boyd Martin. He seriously had nothing left in the engine at the third fence from home. I was happy to see Boyd make the wise decision to stop and save his horse for another day. Likewise Mary King had to make the same decision with her horse who just never seemed to get it together and also ran out of gas. It is so nice to see the horse's welfare put first by such greats in the sport especially when I imagine there must be a pretty big temptation to think that there is *only* three more fences and a handful of meters until the finish line. *Correction: I guess it was 6 fences from home for Boyd and Oscar.

Buck Davidson Jr. had an amazing day with three clear rounds, two of which were double clear. If you don't follow Horse Junkies United you should really watch this interview with Buck Sr. It is really cool.

I have lots of other thoughts about the day but these were the ones that stuck out. I actually have enjoyed watching Rolex from the house this year but honestly I can't wait to get back out there next year!

Amazing picture my trainer got of Katie Ruppel and Sir Donovan who went clear with only 1.6 time faults to sit in 17th place going into show jumping tomorrow.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Zombified

It is upon us, The mecca for North American eventers, Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. And this is the first year in several that I won't be attending. Please excuse me while I sniff a few times.

Well, it turns out that I will probably/hopefully(??) get to see a lot more of the riding at Rolex this year than in the past because I went ahead and paid for a subscription to FEI TV It was about $40 and then $12.99/month thereafter. I'm sure I will cancel it after Rolex is over but I suppose paying $40 to get to watch isn't so bad.

The only problem is sleeping. Last night (for me) was the first day of Dressage. I dutifully had my computer up and proceeded to watch the first four or five tests. (Luckily I got to see Andrew Nicholson's test (the current leader) and can I just say it was B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.!) Then came a 20 minute recess and... I fell asleep on the couch. That was pretty much it for me last night. In my defense it's not like Dressage keeps you hanging by the seat of your pants but I was disappointed that I missed so many of the tests especially Becky Holder's and Can't Fire Me's (currently) 2nd place test. I'm going to try and take a short nap this afternoon and see if I can't make it a little longer tonight and of course bring on the caffeine for Saturday night b/c I will be staying awake to watch cross country. Show jumping on Sunday evening and then maybe my life can get turned right side up again. But, I have a feeling I'm going to be feeling a little zombie-ish for the next few days.

Also a quick update on Angel. I got a note from my friend and she and her husband have decided that they are going to keep Angel (rechristened Angela) permanently! I couldn't have hoped for a better home for her!

And because she is just so dang cute here is yet another picture:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two More Pictures to a Happy Ending

My friend posted these on facebook today and I just had to add them to my blog. I don't know, I just think Angel is such a beautiful cat. I really wish I had room for one more. I would adopt her in a second if I could.


Happy Endings!

I don't know about you but I absolutely love a story with a good, satisfying ending. So I thought I'd share one with you. It's not horse related but it is the story of a cat.

Meet Angel:
Angel is a stray cat that has been hanging around our patio for the last several months. It may or may not have something to do with the food I leave out for her, I don't know. (What can I say I'm a sucker and she has these beautiful blue eyes!) I had hopes that I could catch her and maybe get her to a rescue group but while she would let me get close and would even rub on my legs she would try to bite whenever I attempted to pet her. Not to mention that the rescue groups (like everywhere else in the world) are overwhelmingly full.

Stray cats are quite common over here and most of them are actually pretty darn fat. Angel (dubbed so by my kids) was no exception. Even before I started giving her some food she was quite well fed. So I hoped that she would continue to thrive after we left but I was worried about her.

All that changed Monday night when Angel left three kittens on my doorstep (literally). I thought she had abandoned them b/c for about two hours she didn't even come near them. I honestly thought they were dead and was about ready to dispose of the bodies (before my kids found them the next morning) when I realized they were still alive and I decided to intervene.

I called a friend who works for the local rescue group here on island OAARS. She was so helpful and at 11:00 in the evening rushed over to my house with emergency supplies and helped me clean and warm the kittens. I then spent a very long night trying to bottle feed said kittens every hour or two. Honestly I didn't think they would make it without their mom but they were still very much alive the next morning.

My friend came back over with some more supplies and we discovered that Angel was still sitting on my back porch. I had tried to show her the kittens at least two other times through the night and each time she didn't even seem to see them but we decided to try on more time and wouldn't you know it this time she acted very interested in the kittens. But, we also noticed that she was covered, absolutely covered in fleas.

So my friend went into action again and we gave Angel a bath with vinegar and dawn to kill as many fleas as possible. That's right the cat who had previously tried to bite me whenever I attempted to pet her let us give her a bath and she was pretty darn good about it, too, for a cat. There was no biting and just a few claw casualties. Was it because her mothering instincts had kicked in? Or did she somehow just know we were trying to help her? Or was I just a wuss before and she was more comfortable with my friend?

Anyways, After the bath we put Angel in a cat carrier to dry and my friend ran to the vet to get some flea medicine that would be safe for her and the babies. When she got back we treated her and then finally put the kittens in the carrier with her. And wouldn't you know she immediately started licking them and they started nursing within just a matter of minutes! I think my friend and I sat on the kitchen floor for 15-20 minutes just watching. It was our own little miracle. And it was the best feeling in the world, totally making one sleepless night worth it!

The best part for me is now Angel and her kittens are all in the OAARS system. My friend is fostering them until they are all old enough to be weaned and hopefully adopted out. In the span of just one day Angel's life became 100 times better and so much more certain. I'm so very thankful for my friend and for everyone who puts their time, money, sweat and tears into animal rescue. I know we can't save them all but we can at least try to save the ones that are right in front of us!

Momma and babies safe and sound!



Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fun Stuff!

Well today has been a considerably better day than yesterday despite the fact that Okinawa has become a sauna... seriously I'm pretty sure I've been in steam rooms that were dryer than it is here right now. Luckily the temperature isn't too bad but boy I'm glad I won't be experiencing an Okinawan summer!

The first thing to make this day better is we finally got news on our house and it is OURS! We should be getting the contract for it by Friday and everything signed and the deposit paid shortly thereafter. That makes this whole move seem so much more real! We ended up going with the house I posted earlier:

Gosh, I just don't know what we will do with all the space! Right now we have 6 people living in a three bedroom, 1350 sq.ft. apartment. This house is going to seem like a mansion!

The second fun thing of the day are some purchases I made. I wanted to bring something home from Okinawa that would be a memento of our time here. So I bought two things. A giant fan and a room divider. (Kinda strange I know!)

Here is the fan:

and some close ups:



And here is the divider:


and some close ups:


Unfortunately I don't have a lot of information on where these were made nor by whom. We bought them from some of the vendors that rent stall space in the PX. But, I think they are beautiful and of course very fitting for me. Now that we know about our house I even already know where the room divider is going to go. I'm so excited for June to just get here already!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Waiting IS the Hardest Part

We were supposed to find out about a house no later than today. We haven't heard anything. UGH!! Not only are you separated from everyone physically over here but you are separated by time. Since we haven't heard anything by now (around noon) we won't here anything until tomorrow at the earliest because everyone is now on their way to bed on the other side of the world. Seriously, I am so tired of waiting!

I heard from my trainer and Loki is doing marginally better with mounting and also starting to carry himself a little better instead of leaning on the bit (at the canter). They are hopefully going to Twin Towers tomorrow to XC school, if the weather holds. I'm excited to hear how it goes but of course that means even more waiting!
(Edited to add: I just re-read this. Sorry for the rant! I guess it's been a bit of a rough day!)
 
I also want to take time to say how saddened I am by the tragedy in Boston. My thoughts and prayers are with all the families and friends and loved ones who have been affected by this nonsense. It's so hard to even think about the 8 year old boy, Martin. My son is 8! I can't even let my mind go there.

I don't know about you but I'm not feeling terrorized by this I'm just feeling freaking angry! I guess that is easy for me to say since I wasn't there but seriously why can't these people just blow themselves up if life is that bad? Why do they have to blow up innocent bystanders? Look, anyone of us could die in the next second for any number of reasons so I'm not going to live my life worrying about when some psychotic maniac might decide to blow up the street I'm standing on. I just hope they do find the people responsible and that whoever he or she or they is/are will be brought to justice.

And I do think it is important to remember that in some parts of the world this sort of occurrence can be as much as a weekly sometimes even a daily thing. No matter how bad things may seem to be getting in the U.S. I am still very thankful that I am an American citizen. 



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Return of the Mounting Block Monster

Loki, as most of you who read this know, is off the track. He raced a total of 21 times so I would consider him to be a fairly experienced racehorse. Most of you probably also know that racehorses are never mounted from the ground or from a mounting block and they are almost always moving while they are being mounted. It is understandable, therefore, that when I first started working with Loki he had a few mounting issues. Nothing horrible or super scary you just had to be aware and on your toes. At first he barely gave me a second to get my foot in the stirrup and my leg over his back but as my trainer and I worked with him through the summer he improved greatly.
In fact my trainer used a video of us as an example for a blog she wrote over on Horse Junkies about how to properly mount your horse. You can read the article here or just watch the video below:


As you can see even here Loki still didn't quite have the hang of actually waiting for me to get mounted but he was tons better from where we started and by the end of the summer he was standing for me about 95% of the time. The trick was just not making a big deal about it. Mounting quickly and safely without being jarring or flopping on his back like a monkey and definitely no grabbing his face allowed.

Well apparently having nearly 7 months off has left a little hole in Loki's memory.  Lori said that he has been having trouble with mounting again. Nothing huge just closer to where we started. The day before, though, she decided to get back off to repeat the mounting experience but when she swung down Loki backed up and stumbled. In order to keep him from panicking Lori let go of the reins and Loki thanked her by taking a little tour of the trails that go around the pasture.

Silly horse!! He was completely fine and I'm very confident that he will be back to ship shape in no time but I do think that this might be a reoccurring thing for a while especially in the spring.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Teddy the Turtle

Teddy the Sea Turtle
Well, it's Saturday over here on the other side of the world which means we've pretty much made it through another week, yeeha! We are down to about 7 more weeks and less than 50 days. It still feels like forever but the light at the end of the tunnel does occasionally seem to be getting brighter.

This week was Spring Break for the kids and Jay took some vacation time as well. We had some pretty good times and managed to stay fairly busy. We went to the Churami Aquarium for the last time on Thursday. It is a really cool place and almost as nice as the new Atlanta Aquarium. It was not busy and we went with a friend who grew up in Bermuda and was teaching us all kinds of fun facts about the ocean life we saw. And of course no trip to the Aquarium is complete until you go through the Souvenir Shop, literally the only way to exit is through the shop. Usually we don't buy anything but since it was our last time we allowed everyone to pick out one item. My choice was the cutest ever sea turtle stuffed animal. I don't have a huge collection of stuffed animals, honestly only about four or five but when I find a stuffed animal I really like I just have to have it and Teddy was one of those. Isn't he cute!!
Another from my "collection" Tige the leopard (apparently I didn't know the difference between a tiger and a leopard when I was a kid. He is well over 40 years old and feels like a beanie baby.

On the home front Loki's training seems to be going well. My trainer started off with just lots of flat work and legging up since he'd been out of work for nearly 8 months. They are supposed to do their first jump school this week and sometime soon he will be going XC schooling in preparation for Greater Dayton, his first ever horse trial. I'm still kind of bummed that I won't be taking him to his first "real" show but I know this is a good thing for him. Lori is very experienced and will be able to give him a nice, quiet ride so that hopefully he will come away from the experience with the knowledge that it's "no big deal." Plus once we leave here money will get much tighter and putting my horse in training will not be an option so might as well take advantage of it while I can.

We should find out about the house we want this week. We put an application in and I don't anticipate any problems but it will be pretty cool to have everything legit. For the first time in about 10 years we will be living within a short driving distance from our family. I can't express how excited I am!

I also almost bought a trailer. We were on the verge of picking it up (okay when I say we I mean my Dad) when I got cold feet. It was an older trailer that was going to require quite a bit of work. We were getting a great deal on it so that even after putting the money into it to fix it up it still would have been a "good deal" but at the last minute I just couldn't do it. This is not a snobbery thing in the sense that I have to have the top of the line trailer but I realized I do want to get a trailer that I can be 100% sure is safe for my horses. So that probably means waiting for another year or so to get the right trailer but I don't really "need" it right now. I can borrow my sister's whenever needed and of course I go most places with my trainer anyways. I just hate not being independent but sometimes you just gotta get over it.
Random photo Jay took over the summer. I can't wait for new pictures this summer. Hopefully I won't ride like a moron and I'll actually get some that I like of both him and me!



Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tick Tock

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I guess you could say I've been hiding out, trying to stay busy to make the time go faster. This week coming up is Spring Break. I remember when I used to count the days for Spring Break, Summer Break or any kind of break. Now I'm sort of dreading it. The absence of routine makes time seem to stretch like a rubber band. The good news is Jay is taking vacation for the week as well. The first vacation he's had in a long time so hopefully we will have some fun mixed in with our boredom!

I've been spending time at the gym every day. In fact on Thursday I got my fastest 2 mile run ever a 13:50. That is faster than I ran even when I was coming out of basic! I'm still hoping to get a half-marathon in before I leave but I haven't had as much luck squeezing in time for long runs. The hubs and I just ran 7 miles a few days ago. The first five miles felt awesome and then I hit a huge wall. Luckily I was able to run through it but it wasn't pleasant and we did the 7 miles in about 60 minutes. I'm hoping we will be able to get a couple more longer runs in while we're off this next week.

I've also spent time looking at houses to rent. This is something I've looked forward to for a while. It is the first real sign that the move really is getting close. In fact we've already found three potential houses that I'm going to have my Mom go look at for us. It is entirely possible we will have our housing situation settled before we even get back to Ohio. That is definitely one of the many perks to moving some place familiar.

One of our potential houses
I've also been scanning Craigslist and other sites for horse trailers. I found two that would have been awesome but unfortunately I wasn't the only one who thought so and they both sold within a day of being posted. I don't know if I will buy something without seeing it for myself first but I may have my Dad go look at a few if I think they are really worth it.

Other than that I've just been reading and watching some of my shows. I miss the barn and I miss riding but I also don't miss it. I miss my lessons, though. I never knew I would enjoy teaching as much as I did. I am looking forward to helping out at the show in a couple of weeks and seeing how my former clients are doing.

Loki is now in full-time training to get him ready for when I return. My trainer is giving me weekly (at a minimum) reports on his progress. I have mixed feelings about this b/c I really wish I were the one doing all the work but on the other hand I know Loki will benefit from an experienced trainer for a couple of months. So it is what it is and hopefully when I get back to the states we will be able to just pick up where we left off and not even miss a beat.